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Founder's Day

Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medalists

"Together, they have devoted their lives to areas of study and practice that Thomas Jefferson cared deeply about.  And they have done so with an eye towards improvement—recognizing that, while our pursuit of high ideals will always be imperfect, hope lies in the striving."
-Jim Ryan, president of UVA


The University of Virginia and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello will present their highest honors, the 2020 Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals in Architecture, Citizen Leadership, Global Innovation, and Law, respectively, to:

  • Architecture: Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi, co-founders of the multidisciplinary design practice, WEISS/MANFREDI, known for redefining the relationships between landsape, architecture, infrastructure and art through their award-winning projects.
  • Citizen Leadership: Dr. Rajiv Shah, president of The Rockefeller Foundation and a leader in global development. Shah was the USAID Administrator during President Barack Obama’s administration and has deep experience in business, government and philanthropy
  • Global Innovation: Ted Turnera media pioneer and philanthropist working to promote sustainability, environmental initiatives and charitable efforts around the world.
  • Law: Sonia Sotomayor, an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009 after a distinguished legal career.

To view the official press release announcing this year's medalist, please click here. A complete list of past recipients in each category can be found here.

 “As Thomas Jefferson once counseled, we must ‘do to our fellow-men the most good in our power. This year’s medalists embody the spirit of this charge through their selfless, determined work. We are disappointed that we cannot award these honors in person, but no less pleased to recognize their tireless efforts to create a better future.”
-Leslie Greene Bowman, president and CEO of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation


Portrait of Marion Weiss and Michael ManfrediArchitects are the co-founders of a New York-based architectural design firm named one of North America’s “Emerging Voices” by the Architectural League of New York. Their multidisciplinary practice, WEISS/MANFREDI Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism, is at the forefront of redefining the relationships between landscape, architecture, infrastructure and art. Their award-winning projects include the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle, which Time Magazine identified as one of the top 10 projects in the world. Integrating art, architecture and ecology, the park has won numerous other honors, and was the first project in North America to win Harvard University’s Veronica Rudge Green Prize in Urban Design.

Most recently, WEISS/MANFREDI was selected through an international competition to re-imagine the world-renowned La Brea Tar Pits and Museum in Los Angeles. 

Weiss, who earned her undergraduate degree in architecture at UVA and her graduate degree from the Yale School of Architecture, is currently the Graham Chair Professor of Practice at the University of Pennsylvania and has taught design studios at Harvard University, Yale University and Cornell University. She was also an Eero Saarinen Visiting Professor at Yale University. In 2017, she was honored by Architectural Record with the Women in Architecture Design Leader Award. She is also a fellow of the American Institute of Architects and a National Academy of Design inductee.

Manfredi is currently a senior design critic at Harvard University. Born in Trieste, Italy, and raised in Rome, Manfredi completed his undergraduate education in the U.S. and received a Master of Architecture degree from Cornell University. He has taught design studios at Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University and Cornell University. In addition to being a founding board member of the Van Alen Institute, he is also a fellow of the American Institute of Architects and a National Academy of Design inductee.

WEISS/MANFREDI is known for placing environmental stewardship and sustainability at the core of their work, and for their design projects that require progressive ecological and infrastructural frameworks. In addition to the Seattle Museum of Art’s Olympic Sculpture Park, these frameworks are evident in their award-winning and public-facing projects such as Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park on the East River in New York, winner of the 2019 Masterworks Award for “Best Urban Landscape” and one of four projects selected as “Best Architecture of 2018” by The Wall Street Journal. The Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology, a state-of-the-art lab facility at the University of Pennsylvania, earned WEISS/MANFREDI an AIA Institute Honor Award. The firm’s design for the visitor center at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden won the NY Public Design Commission Award for Excellence in Design and an American Society of Landscape Architects Honor Award.

“As designers, Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi have been critically redefining the relationship between landscape, architecture and urbanism through their work, which not only underscores the significance that Thomas Jefferson attributed to these intertwined realms, but also speaks to the necessity, in our current age, to transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries and create newly integrated cultural-ecological paradigms,” School of Architecture Dean Ila Berman said. “Their transformation of coastal urban brownfields in Seattle and New York has breathed new life back into these cities, while generating truly public spaces that support inclusiveness and social equity. Innovative, thoughtful and carefully crafted, their works are both powerful and beautiful – urban social condensers and light-filled landscapes that express the profound cultural significance and transformative potential of architecture.”

Other built works include the Tata Innovation Center at Cornell Tech in New York City; the Museum of the Earth in Ithaca, New York; and the Women’s Memorial and Education Center at Arlington National Cemetery, winner of a Federal Design Architectural Award. WEISS/MANFREDI’s current projects include Yale University’s Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking, The Tampa Museum of Art expansion, and the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India, which breaks ground in spring 2020.

WEISS/MANFREDI won the 2018 Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Institution’s National Design Award, the New York AIA Gold Medal and the Academy Award in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. They have been featured in exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the National Building Museum, the Essen Design Centre in Germany, the Louvre Museum and the Venice Biennale. Princeton Architectural Press has published three monographs on their work, including Public Natures: Evolutionary Infrastructures.

In recognition of this distinguished honor, the UVA School of Architecture hosted a virtual public talk given by Weiss and Manfredi on Monday, April 20 at 5pm (EST). 

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Portrait of Dr. Rajiv Shah, president of The Rockefeller Foundation Dr. Rajiv J. Shah is the president of the Rockefeller Foundation, a global organization that works to end preventable child and maternal mortality, transform food systems to reduce the global burden of disease, end energy poverty for millions in Africa and Asia, and enable meaningful economic mobility in the United States and around the world.

Shah brings more than 20 years of experience in business, government and philanthropy to the Rockefeller Foundation. In 2009, President Obama appointed him to serve as USAID Administrator, and he was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate. 

Shah was tasked with reshaping the $20 billion agency’s operations to provide greater assistance to pressing development challenges around the globe. In this role, he led the U.S. response to the Haiti earthquake and the West African Ebola crisis, and served on the National Security Council.

By encouraging innovation and public-private partnerships, and shifting how dollars were spent to deliver stronger results, Shah secured bipartisan support that enabled USAID to dramatically accelerate its work to end extreme poverty, including the passage of two significant presidential priorities – Feed the Future and Power Africa, and the Global Food Security Act, which was the second-largest global development legislation after the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Shah’s work delivered results for countries facing democratic transitions, post-conflict situations and humanitarian crises, and is widely credited with providing life-saving access to food, health and water for millions of children across the planet.

“Throughout his distinguished career, Dr. Rajiv Shah has made tremendous contributions to the well-being of people and communities around the globe,” said Ian H. Solomon, dean of UVA’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, which sponsors the Citizen Leadership medal. “His commitment to public service and unwavering drive to solve humanity’s toughest challenges exemplify what it means to be a citizen leader. We are honored to recognize Dr. Shah’s countless accomplishments and contributions with this award.”

When Shah left USAID in 2015, he continued to follow his passion for creating opportunities for communities to thrive in the developing world by founding Latitude Capital, a private equity firm focused on power and infrastructure projects in Africa and Asia. He was also appointed a Distinguished Fellow in Residence at Georgetown University.

Prior to his appointment at USAID, Shah served as chief scientist and undersecretary for research, education and economics at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He also served in a number of leadership roles at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where he helped launch the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (a joint venture by the Gates and Rockefeller foundations) and the International Financing Facility for Immunization (credited with raising more than $5 billion for childhood immunizations worldwide) and where he supported the creation of the Global Development Program. 

Raised outside of Detroit, Shah is a graduate of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the Wharton School of Business, and has been awarded honorary degrees from Tuskegee University, American University and Colby College. His service and contributions have been recognized by the Department of State, the U.S. Global Leadership Council, the World Economic Forum, Tufts University and Fortune Magazine.

He and his wife, Shivam Mallick Shah, reside in Washington, D.C., with their three children.

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Portrait of Ted TurnerMedia pioneer and philanthropist Ted Turner is known for creating the world’s first 24-hour cable news channel, Cable News Network (CNN), and founding its parent company Turner Broadcasting (now WarnerMedia), home to channels including Turner Classic Movies and Cartoon Network. Throughout his career, Turner has received recognition for his entrepreneurial acumen, sharp business skills, leadership qualities and philanthropy. Whether in billboard advertisement, cable television, sports team ownership, competitive sailing, environmental initiatives or philanthropy, Turner’s vision, determination, generosity and forthrightness have consistently given the world reason to take notice.

The medals, typically presented in person at UVA and Monticello, will be given in absentia this year due to ongoing efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus and limitations on events and travel.

Turner founded and chairs the United Nations Foundation, which promotes a more peaceful, prosperous and just world; co-founded and co-chairs the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a charitable organization working to reduce the global threats from nuclear, biological and chemical weapons; and serves as founder and chair of the Turner Foundation, whose board includes Turner’s five children and adult grandchildren, and is committed to protecting and restoring the Earth’s natural systems – land, air and water – on which all life depends. 

Turner and executive producer Barbara Pyle launched the animated series “Captain Planet and the Planeteers” in 1990. One year later, the Captain Planet Foundation was created to fund and support hands-on environmental projects for children and youth. The foundation’s objective is to encourage innovative programs that empower children and youth around the world to work individually and collectively to solve environmental problems in their neighborhoods and communities. 

Turner also is co-founder of Ted’s Montana Grill restaurant collection, which operates 43 locations nationwide. 

Out of concern for the well-being of his land, totaling approximately 2 million acres in the U.S. and Argentina, Turner established the Turner Endangered Species Fund in 1997 to conserve biodiversity by emphasizing restoration efforts of endangered or imperiled species on Turner properties.

For many years, Turner has devoted his time and energy toward promoting the use of clean energy sources. Through his Turner Renewable Energy company, Turner makes the case that investing in renewable energy is not only a prudent financial decision, but also a crucial step toward ensuring our planet’s future health. Turner Renewable Energy has taken several significant steps in moving from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, including investing in MERIT SI LLC, a national sustainable infrastructure company with offices in Austin, Texas, Houston and New Jersey. MERIT SI develops and delivers innovative solar and energy storage solutions to industrial operators of critical infrastructure across North America. 

In addition to its investment in MERIT SI, Turner Renewable Energy is responsible for the development of the 25-canopy Luckie Street Solar Project and the utilization of clean energy sources whenever possible at Ted’s Montana Grill restaurants and on Turner Ranches, which utilize some form of solar power on the majority of its properties.

Turner also chairs Turner Enterprises Inc., a private company with offices in Atlanta and Bozeman, Montana, which oversees his business interests, landholdings and investments as well as Turner’s herd of more than 50,000 bison across 15 of his 16 western ranches. Turner is attributed with helping to bring the iconic American bison species back from the brink of extinction, now owning approximately 10% of the nation’s bison population.

During his sailing career, Turner was an intense ocean racer and champion in the 5.5-Meter and Flying Dutchman classes. He helped bring international attention to the America’s Cup with his victory in 1977 with the first aluminum 12-meter vessel, Courageous. In 1979, Turner skippered the 61-foot Tenacious to victory in the Fastnet race, which was marred by disaster when a fierce storm ravaged the fleet. In that same year, he won the Miami-Montego Bay race. Turner was awarded the Yachtsman of the Year award on four different occasions and was honored with the New York Yacht Club Commodore Medal in 2017.

Turner is the recipient of numerous honorary degrees, industry awards and civic honors, including being named TIME Magazine’s 1991 Man of the Year, Broadcasting and Cable’s Man of the Century in 1999 and one of TIME 100 World’s Most Influential People in 2009. Turner also received the 2011 Palazzo Strozzi Foundation’s Renaissance Man of the Year award; the Overseas Press Club Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012; was honored by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 35th Annual Sports Emmy Awards in 2014; was recognized with an official portrait unveiling at the National Portrait Gallery, also in 2014; received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 35th Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards in 2015; was honored with the Forbes 400 Lifetime Achievement award for Philanthropy in 2016; and in 2017, was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, among many others.

Turner also delivered the keynote address at Valedictory Exercises on UVA’s 1986 Final Exercises weekend.

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Portrait of Sonia Sotomayor“U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor is truly a pathbreaking jurist,” Dean Risa Goluboff said. “Appointed to three different federal courts by three different presidents, her judicial career has been marked by a deep concern for the law’s real-world implications and its impact on the American people. We are thrilled to welcome her to the Law School and to honor her remarkable legacy.” 

President Barack Obama nominated Sotomayor to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court on May 26, 2009, and she assumed the role on Augugst 8 of the same year. She is the first Latina to become a Supreme Court justice.

She previously served as a judge on the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, from 1998 to 2009, and on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, from 1992 to 1998. Sotomayor litigated international commercial matters in New York at Pavia & Harcourt, where she served as an associate and then partner, from 1984 until 1992. She served as assistant district attorney in the New York County District Attorney’s Office from 1979 to 1984. 

On the high court, she was the lone dissenter in Mullenix v. Luna, which held that a police officer who shot a suspect during a police pursuit was entitled to qualified immunity. “By sanctioning a ‘shoot first, think later’ approach to policing, the Court renders the protections of the Fourth Amendment hollow,” she wrote.

Sotomayor’s solo concurrence in U.S. v. Jones, which held that installing a GPS tracking device to a vehicle constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment, garnered influence in other federal privacy cases. “It may be necessary to reconsider the premise that an individual has no reasonable expectation of privacy in information voluntarily disclosed to third parties,” she writes.

She also authored the court’s opinion in J. D. B. v. North Carolina, which held that age is relevant when determining police custody for Miranda purposes.

Sotomayor is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society and the American Law Institute. 

She is the author of “Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You,” “My Beloved World,” “The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor” and “Turning Pages: My Life Story.”

Sotomayor is the eighth Supreme Court justice to receive the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Law since its inception in 1977.

She earned her J.D. from Yale Law School and her B.A. from Princeton University.

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Past Recipients of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals